Thirty-seven touchdowns. Nine interceptions. 3,632 yards passing and 551 yards rushing. Impressive numbers by any standards. AJ Graham, dual-threat quarterback from Goodby High School in Tallahassee, racked up those stats in his award winning senior season. Now he's looking to take his game to the next level and it's a real shootout to see which school wins the services of the talented signal caller.
KStateFans.com caught up with AJ recently and went in-depth on the current recruiting situation. With Signing Day drawing close and coaching staffs desperately attempting to secure verbal commitments from the most important recruits left on their take board, this rocket-armed and steady field manager has a lot to think about. "I've got 4 schools right now. Oregon, Illinois, Kansas State and Marshall are who I'm looking at." So, which of those four have an inside track? Well, AJ wouldn't name an exact leader, but the visits might tell the story: "I visited Kansas State last weekend, and this weekend I'm going up to Marshall. Oregon and Illinois, I just couldn't fit them into my schedule. I didn't take any visits out there."
The upcoming visit to Marshall has a bit of historical and NFL-level appeal to AJ, as he commented "They've had some good quarterbacks there. And there are a couple playing in the League right now in Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich. I like that " While acknowledging he's still to visit Huntington, WV, Graham continued with the arms-length praise of the Thundering Herd: "They have a good coaching staff up there, and a good history." It would appear that Coach Snyder...yes, Marshall's Head Coach has the same last name as Kansas State's Head Coach...is leaving nothing to chance in his pursuit of Tallahassee's finest. "Marshall came to my school today for a visit. They just wanted to meet with me down here before the visit this weekend," said the star Quarterback.
Oregon and Illinois will not get a visit. Graham will trip to Marshall for an official visit this weekend. And what of Kansas State? How did last weekends visit go? Glad you asked.
AJ Graham took his official visit to Manhattan last weekend and had a lot to say about his trip to Manhattan. From current players and the coaching staff to the new offense being installed by Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig - there's definitely a sense Graham is a fit with his athletic skills in the spread-option offense proposed by the Kansas State coaches. "Kansas State has great players. Josh Freeman was just a great quarterback. He's not there now though, so KState's needing someone new. But they really have always had great players at Kansas State and a great tradition of winning. There's an opportunity to help re-establish that tradition there and I like that." Speaking specifically about that job opening left by Freeman's departure, AJ noted "Coach Snyder has always like the dual-threat kind of guy. A run/pass guy. He's a great coach, and he's put together a really strong new staff that wants to run the spread-option. I fit right into that."
While in Manhattan, Graham spent time with Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig to dive into the nitty gritty of running the new Wildcats offense. "Yeah, we watched film and talked about the system a bit. It's really similar to the offense I ran in high school, so it's right in line with the spread offense I'm used to." We asked if there was anything that stood out about his play that Coach Ludwig might have highlighted, and AJ was quick to fill us in on his strengths, noting "The slant routes. Coach Ludwig likes how I run those. And I think that I'm just very calm running the offense. I'm never rattled. I'm just a 'down-to-earth' guy."
Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The name is not lost on AJ. "It says a lot. There's a lot of love there from the university and the fans. It's the whole community...very like a family between the fans and the school and the football program. I didn't get to go down onto the field while I was there, but I did view it from one of the boxes. It's a lot bigger than I thought. It's a big stadium."
Rounding out our conversation about the visit, AJ gave some thoughts on his activities while in Manhattan "Brandon Harold was my host. It was fun to hang with him. I spent most of my time with defensive guys because Brandon's on the D Line, but it was fun to be with them." "The campus is nice. Manhattan is just a nice place...a place where you want to go to college. Big cities are OK, but you know, there's always things going on there that can lead you astray. The location of the school doesn't really matter, but a small town is maybe better for just concentrating on football and school and the college experience. I'd be comfortable with that." That college environment is important to AJ. He brought that up specifically during our conversation. "I want a good environment. A place where people care. Kansas State showed that to me while I was up there. I want to study criminology and sociology, so the academics are important. I went through the student support system at KState and they've got good things in place for that."
Oregon. Illinois. Marshall. Kansas State. Does AJ Graham see a clear leader as yet? "Not right now. I know Signing Day is soon, so I have to make a decision. I'm looking for an opportunity to make an immediate impact, so that will consider into my decision."
The Field General who never rattles. The "Down-to earth" guy. The player who thinks...a lot...on and off the field. If campus visits are the lifeblood of recruiting, Kansas State and Marshall might have the unspoken lead for Tallahassee's Player of the Year. And if opportunity for immediate impact is a consideration, Kansas State might just jump ahead of Marshall in that category. But Signing Day is still a week away, recruiting can change on a dime or a visit and AJ Graham still has a bit of thinking to do.
Stay Tuned to KStateFans and Kansas State Recruiting as the Countdown to Signing Day rolls on - You Do Not Want Miss Any Of The Action!